Restrictions on travel, introduced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, are slowly being eased, allowing tourism to restart in a growing number of destinations, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said on Tuesday.
Τhe fifth edition of the UNWTO’s research “COVID-19 Related Travel Restrictions: A Global Review for Tourism”, shows that the sector is slowly restarting, though this restart is significantly more pronounced in some global regions.
According to the UNWTO’s latest research, as of 15 June, 22 percent of all destinations worldwide (48 destinations) have started to ease restrictions – up from just 3 percent (7 destinations) on 18 May – with Europe leading the way.
Destinations that have eased travel restrictions for tourists include:
– 37 destinations in Europe, including 24 of the 26 Schengen Member States
– 6 destinations in the Americas, including 5 Small Island Developing States
– 3 destinations in Asia and the Pacific, including 2 Small Island Developing States
– 2 destinations in Africa
At the same time, the COVID-19 Related Travel Restrictions report makes clear that many destinations are maintaining a cautious approach to lifting or easing restrictions on travel. As of 15 June, 24 percent of all destinations worldwide (51 destinations) have had travel restrictions now in place for 19 weeks and 37 percent (80 destinations) for 15 weeks.
In total, 65 percent of destinations worldwide (141 destinations) continue to have their borders completely closed to international tourism.
In Africa, the proportion of destinations where borders remain closed to tourists stands now at 85 percent. In the Americas, 76 percent of destinations maintain full border closures, as do 67 percent of destinations in Asia and the Pacific and 92 percent of destinations in the Middle East. In Europe, these full border closures are reduced now to 26 percent of all destinations.
Impact of COVID-19 on the sector
While April was expected to be one of the busiest times of the year due to the Easter holidays, the near-universal introduction of travel restrictions led to a fall of 97 percent in international tourist arrivals. This follows a 55 percent decline in March. Between January and April 2020, international tourist arrivals declined by 44 percent, translating into a loss of about US$195 billion in international tourism receipts.
At the regional level, Asia and the Pacific was the first to be hit by the pandemic and the worst hit between January and April, with arrivals down 51 percent in that period. Europe recorded the second-largest fall, with a 44 percent drop for the same period, followed by the Middle East (-40 percent), the Americas (-36 percent) and Africa (-35 percent).